MARS - Midwest Auto Racing Series

Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury...
Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26...
Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorp...
Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury...

Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury...

5/25/2024 -
Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury Speedway Fairbury, IL Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD Septic Treat
Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26...

Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26...

5/25/2024 -
Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26 at Spoon River Speedway FAIRBURY, IL (May 25) Due to the projected heavy rainfall and severe thunde
Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorp...

Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorp...

5/24/2024 -
Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD Septic Treatment Canceled for Friday, May 24 FAIRBURY, IL (May 24) Due to early afte

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Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury Speedway

Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury Speedway

5/25/2024
Official Summary of Results May 25, 2024 Fairbury Speedway Fairbury, IL Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD Septic Treatment Feature Results for the MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment – 126 entries Mike Harrison –...more
Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26 at Spoon River

Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26 at Spoon River...

5/25/2024
Gary Cook Jr. Memorial Canceled for Sunday, May 26 at Spoon River Speedway FAIRBURY, IL (May 25) Due to the projected heavy rainfall and severe thunderstorms beginning tomorrow morning, officials with the MARS Championship Tours and track personnel at Spoon River Speedway...more
Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD

Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD...

5/24/2024
Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD Septic Treatment Canceled for Friday, May 24 FAIRBURY, IL (May 24) Due to early afternoon downpours and projected showers and storms throughout the evening, night #2 of the Illinois Dirt Shootout at Fairbury...more
Official Summary of Results May 23, 2023 Fairbury Speedway

Official Summary of Results May 23, 2023 Fairbury Speedway

5/23/2024
Official Summary of Results May 23, 2024 Fairbury Speedway Fairbury, IL Illinois Dirt Shootout Presented by Popejoy Incorporated & HOTROD Septic Treatment MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment – 123 entries Allstar Performance Feature 1 Michael Long...more


FK Rod Ends
MARS Late Model & Modified Championship Tours 2023 Season Statistical Review
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12/31/2023

12/31/2023

MARS - Midwest Auto Racing Series


MARS Late Model & Modified Championship Tours 2023 Season Statistical Review

MARS Late Model & Modified Championship Tours 2023 Season Statistical Review

FAIRBURY, IL (December 31, 2023) After the first season is in the books for the MARS Championship tours under the ownership of MC Promotions, we take one final look back on the memorable 2023 season with a statistical review.

MARS Late Model Championship Powered by FK Rod Ends

2023 Season Schedule

DATE - TRACK - CITY, STATE - CAR COUNT - WINNER
4/28 - Brownstown Bullring - Brownstown, IL - 37 - Tyler Erb
4/29 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 32 - Shannon Babb
4/30 - Red Hill Raceway - Sumner, IL - 22 - Brandon Sheppard
5/19 - Kankakee County Speedway - Kankakee, IL - 27 - Jason Feger
5/20 - Charleston Speedway - Charleston, IL - 29 - Ryan Unzicker
5/21 - Adams County Speedway - Quincy, IL - 24 - Ryan Unzicker (2)
5/26 - Farmer City Raceway - Farmer City, IL - 32 - Billy Moyer
5/27 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 37 - Jason Feger (2)
5/28 - Spoon River Speedway - Lewistown, IL - 25 - Jason Feger (3)
7/21 - Jacksonville Speedway - Jacksonville, IL - 23 - Jason Feger (4)
7/22 - Federated Auto Parts Raceway @ I-55 - Pevely, MO - 33 - Gordy Gundaker
7/25 - Davenport Speedway - Davenport, IA - 24 - Drake Troutman
8/18 - Tri City Speedway - Granite City, IL - 27 - Tony Jackson Jr
8/19 - Highland Speedway - Highland, IL - 29 - Jason Feger (5)
9/1 - Farmer City Raceway - Farmer City, IL - 27 - Jason Feger (6)
9/2 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 25 - Jason Feger (7)
9/3 - Spoon River Speedway - Lewistown, IL - CANCELED - CANCELED
9/15 - Brownstown Bullring - Brownstown, IL - 35 - Tanner English
9/16 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 30 - Jason Feger (8)
9/22 - Tri City Speedway – Granite City, IL - RAIN OUT - RAIN OUT
9/23 - Tri City Speedway - Granite City, IL - 36 - Mike Harrison

Nightly Award Winners

Illinois State Rifle Association Heat Race #1 Winners

Jason Feger – 3
Tyler Erb – 2
Dillon McCowan – 2
McKay Wenger – 1
Brandon Sheppard – 1
Kevin Weaver – 1
Payton Freeman – 1
Billy Moyer Jr – 1
Drake Troutman – 1
Frank Heckenast Jr – 1
Spencer Diercks – 1
Gordy Gundaker – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Shannon Babb – 1
Dennis Erb Jr – 1

Pontiac RV Heat Race #2 Winners

Ryan Unzicker – 5
Mike Harrison – 4
Drake Troutman – 3
Tanner English – 2
Jason Feger – 1
Kevin Weaver – 1
Logan Nickerson – 1
McKay Wenger – 1
Logan Martin – 1

FK Rod Ends 1st Place Finisher

Jason Feger – 8
Ryan Unzicker – 2
Tyler Erb – 1
Shannon Babb – 1
Brandon Sheppard – 1
Billy Moyer – 1
Gordy Gundaker – 1
Drake Troutman – 1
Tony Jackson Jr – 1
Tanner English – 1
Mike Harrison – 1

Out-Pace Racing Products 3rd Place Finisher

Ryan Unzicker – 4
Mike Harrison – 3
Tommy Sheppard Jr – 2
Shannon Babb – 1
Brian Shirley – 1
Drake Troutman – 1
Logan Nickerson – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Rich Bell – 1
Jason Feger – 1
Jeff Larson – 1
Gordy Gundaker – 1
Logan Martin – 1

FK Rod Ends 5th Place Finisher

Jason Feger – 3
Kyle Hammer – 3
Ryan Unzicker – 2
Rodney Melvin – 1
Rich Dawson – 1
Mike Harrison – 1
Payton Freeman – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Drake Troutman – 1
Justin Kay – 1
Kye Blight – 1
Shannon Babb – 1
Blaze Burwell – 1
Trevor Gundaker – 1

Fairbury Fastener 7th Place Finisher

Billy Moyer Jr – 2
Blaze Burwell – 2
Kye Blight – 2
Bob Gardner – 2
Tanner English – 1
Frank Heckenast Jr – 1
Billy Moyer – 1
Dillon McCowan – 1
Justin Reed – 1
Jason Feger – 1
Clayton Stuckey – 1
Mike Mataragas – 1
Logan Nickerson – 1
Mike Harrison – 1
Kevin Weaver – 1

Budda by Bert Transmission 9th Place Finisher

Bob Gardner – 4
Drake Troutman – 1
Taylor Scheffler – 1
Tommy Sheppard Jr – 1
Mike Spatola – 1
Josh Boller – 1
Trevor Gundaker – 1
Jake Little – 1
Joseph Hughs – 1
Blaze Burwell – 1
Matt Furman – 1
Ryan Unzicker – 1
Matt Bailey – 1
Rich Bell – 1
Logan Martin – 1
Justin White – 1

Hooker Harness 11th Place Finisher

Blaze Burwell – 3
Kye Blight – 2
Logan Nickerson – 2
Daryn Klein – 1
Frank Heckenast Jr – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Mike Harrison – 1
Drake Troutman – 1
Trevor Gundaker – 1
Justin Duty – 1
Kyle Hammer – 1
Billy Hough – 1
Jordan Suhre – 1
Taylor Scheffler – 1
Rusty Griffaw – 1

Keyser Manufacturing 13th Place Finisher

Mark Voigt – 3
Rich Dawson – 1
Mike Spatola – 1
Logan Nickerson – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Kyle Hammer – 1
Justin White – 1
Blaze Burwell – 1
Frank Heckenast Jr – 1
Jake Little – 1
Austin Howes – 1
Jake Rainey – 1
Billy Laycock – 1
Myles Moos – 1
Rodney Melvin – 1
Dale Markham – 1
Dalton Imhoff – 1

Fast Shafts 15th Place Finisher

Justin White – 2
Kye Blight – 2
Bob Gardner – 1
Jake Little – 1
Mark Voigt – 1
Jason Feger – 1
Austin Howes – 1
Roben Huffman – 1
Mike Mataragas – 1
Rich Dawson – 1
Dylan Thompson – 1
Brandon Queen – 1
Rusty Griffaw – 1
Billy Hough – 1
Dale Markham – 1
Brayton Wallace – 1
Dillon McCowan – 1

MD3 Hard Charger Award Winners

Rodney Melvin – 2
Tommy Sheppard Jr – 2
Kyle Hammer – 2
Jason Feger – 2
Justin White – 2
Taylor Scheffler – 1
Blaze Burwell – 1
Billy Moyer – 1
Joseph Hughs – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Justin Kay – 1
Cody Laney – 1
Shannon Babb – 1
Mark Voigt – 1

Wilwood Brakes Hard Luck Award Winners

Mark Voigt – 3
Kyle Hammer – 2
Matt Bailey – 1
Kevin Weaver – 1
Brandon Tibaldi – 1
Chase Osterhoff – 1
Trevor Gundaker – 1
Jordan Bauer – 1
Tucker Finch – 1
Bob Gardner – 1
Dylan Thompson – 1
Rusty Griffaw – 2
Mike Spatola – 1
Brian Diveley – 1
Todd Bennett – 1

Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Race Winners

Mike Harrison – 9
Tommy Sheppard Jr – 4
Blaze Burwell – 2
Logan Nickerson – 1
Rich Dawson – 1
Kye Blight – 1
Kyle Hammer – 1

MARS Late Model Championship Powered by FK Rod Ends 2023 Final Points

  1. Jason Feger – Bloomington, IL – 1151 points
  2. Ryan Unzicker – El Paso, IL – 1018 points
  3. Mike Harrison – Highland, IL – 892 points
  4. Bob Gardner – Washington, IL – 832 points
  5. Blaze Burwell – Mt. Vernon, IL – 779 points
  6. Justin White – Stevensville, MI – 606 points
  7. Kye Blight – Bunbury, Western Australia – 596 points
  8. Mark Voigt – Marine, IL – 568 points
  9. Kyle Hammer – Clinton, IL – 516 points
  10. Jake Little – Springfield, IL – 465 points

MARS Late Model Championship Powered by FK Rod Ends 2023 Top 10 Driver Breakdown

Jason Feger

Point Position: 1
Events Entered: 19
Wins: 8
Top 5’s: 15
Top 10’s: 17
Average Feature Finish: 4.05

After a slow start to the season with only 1 podium finish in the first 5 events (which was a win at Kankakee) Feger turned it up to an all-new level from Adams County until the end of the season. In the final 14 events of the season, Feger notched 7 wins, and only a single finish out of the top-10 (a DNF at Davenport). In the final 6 events Feger finished no worse than second which carved his path to the 2023 title.

Ryan Unzicker

Point Position: 2
Events Entered: 19
Wins: 2
Top 5’s: 13
Top 10’s: 14
Average Feature Finish: 6.68

2023 proved to be a rollercoaster season on the MARS tour for El Paso, Illinois driver Ryan Unzicker. 2 3-race stints of finishes no worse than second, and 4 September shows where he finished third in all 4 events was the model of consistency that he knew he would need to be a series champion. The dagger for Unzicker on the season was the 4 DNF’s sprinkled throughout the tour. Unzicker picked up wins at back-to-back races in May at Charleston and Adams County and ultimately settled for second in the series standings.

Mike Harrison

Point Position: 3
Events Entered: 17
Wins: 1
Top 5’s: 7
Top 10’s: 15
Average Feature Finish: 5.94 + 1 DNQ

There isn’t much in the Midwest that Highland, Illinois racer Mike Harrison hasn’t accomplished. In 2023 he was able to notch Rookie of the Year honors for the MARS Late Model tour in the Lampley Motorsports #33. Harrison strung together solid runs for his first season of regional Late Model racing and finished in the top-10 in all but 2 starts over the course of the schedule. With Harrison choosing to not attend series events at Davenport and at Fairbury on September 2, it took until the final night of racing to solidify third in series standings while picking up his first career MARS Late Model victory in the process.

Bob Gardner

Point Position: 4
Events Entered: 19
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 4
Top 10’s: 13
Average Feature Finish: 9.32

Although misfortune plagued the 4G throughout the season, Bob Gardner was able to capture fourth in series standings when the dust had settled on 2023. It took until May 26 at Farmer City for Gardner to capture his first top-5 of the season, but afterwards he hit his stride. In the 10-race span the 4G finished in the top-10 each night with the exception of at Davenport when a third-place finish resulted in a disqualification after post-race technical inspection. His best finish of the season was a second-place finish at Highland in August.

Blaze Burwell

Point Position: 5
Events Entered: 18
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 1
Top 10’s: 10
Average Feature Finish: 9.72

An eighth-place finish on opening night at Brownstown, and a seventh-place finish on that Sunday at Red Hill was enough for Blaze Burwell to take a gander at the MARS Late Model schedule and decide that it was something he was willing to tackle. After taking the jump, Burwell hit every event on the series schedule and showed signs of improvement throughout the season. His best finish on the season was a fifth-place finish at Fairbury on September 16.

Justin White

Point Position: 6
Events Entered: 19
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 0
Top 10’s: 3
Average Feature Finish: 15.13 + 3 DNQ

MARS 2023 was all about learning for the young Stevensville, Michigan racer. Going into the season the team knew that the tour was going to be all about building a notebook and improving on different types of racing surfaces that the MARS schedule provided. White showed that he belonged as the season progressed as he consistently improved each time they unloaded, won the B-Main at Highland in August (a place Justin had never raced at), and nabbed 3 top-10’s along the way at Charleston, Jacksonville, and Tri City.

Kye Blight

Point Position: 7
Events Entered: 15
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 1
Top 10’s: 4
Average Feature Finish: 11.71 + 1 DNQ

After missing the opening weekend due to being back home in Australia, Blight knew that following the MARS Late Model tour in 2023 would be a tough task. Nevertheless, the BAR31 team followed through with their commitment and rallied to a seventh-place finish in season standings. Blight showed consistent speed every night on the track and was a threat to win on numerous occasions. His best finish of the tour was a fifth-place finish at Farmer City in September.

Mark Voigt

Point Position: 8
Events Entered: 18
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 0
Top 10’s: 0
Average Feature Finish: 17.59 + 1 DNQ

Night 1 on the tour proved to be a challenge for the Voigt racing team as they failed to make the show, but the heart and determination of the crew persevered as the season continued. The #30 car managed to transfer into the feature every other night of the tour (with the exception of Davenport as they did not make the trip). Mechanical gremlins and seeming to have the knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time proved to be the challenge for Voigt as he recorded 7 DNF’s which ultimately impacted his final point placement. The best finishes of the season for Voigt were a trio of thirteenth-place finishes at Jacksonville, Fairbury on September 2, and Brownstown on September 15.

Kyle Hammer

Point Position: 9
Events Entered: 13
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 3
Top 10’s: 4
Average Feature Finish: 12.36

Starting the season as a Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year contender, hopes were high for a successful campaign for Hammer in his first season on the MARS tour in the Brent McKinnon Racing #26M. Hammer had plenty of flashes of speed including a heat race win at Red Hill, followed by a 20th to 5th charge in the feature event at Kankakee. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, Hammer was unable to stay on the tour full-time, but did manage to hit 13 events and captured nineth in series standings. His best finishes of the season were fifth-place finishes at Kankakee, Highland, and September 3 at Fairbury.

Jake Little

Point Position: 10
Events Entered: 12
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 0
Top 10’s: 3
Average Feature Finish: 13.67

Jake Little has been known as one of the more under-the-radar type guys in the central Illinois area that always has sneaky speed anywhere he unloads his #38J Super Late Model. The potential for a top-5 point finish was definitely there as he made the feature event in all 12 of the first events of the year and managed to string together 3 consecutive top-10 finishes in May at Charleston, Adams County, and Farmer City. Unfortunately, a blown engine at Davenport ended his run with the MARS tour in 2023, but nonetheless was still able to finish in the final point paying position in the season standings.

Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year Final Point Standings

  1. Mike Harrison – 892 points
  2. Blaze Burwell – 779 points
  3. Justin White – 606 points
  4. Kye Blight – 596 points

Tidbits of the 2023 Season

• Car Count average of 29.16 cars per race.

• 10 winners in 19 events.

• 8 full-time drivers.

• Winner’s shares included: (2) $10,000 and (17) $5,000 events.

• Events were contested at 13 racetracks in 3 states.

• 155 total different competitors.

MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment

2023 Season Schedule

DATE - TRACK - CITY, STATE - CAR COUNT - WINNER
April 28 - Brownstown Bullring - Brownstown, IL - 43 - Tyler Nicely
April 29 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 41 - Michael Long
May 5 - Paducah International Raceway - Paducah, KY - CANCELED - CANCELED
May 6 - Red Hill Raceway - Sumner, IL - 32 - Tyler Nicely (2)
May 20 - Charleston Speedway - Charleston, IL - 48 - Kyle Steffens
May 21 - Adams County Speedway - Quincy, IL - 29 - Kyle Steffens (2)
May 26 - Farmer City Raceway - Farmer City, IL - 38 - Tyler Nicely (3)
May 27 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 44 - Mike McKinney
May 28 - Spoon River Speedway - Lewistown, IL - 32 - Cole Falloway
July 22 - Federated Auto Parts Raceway @ I-55 - Pevely, MO - 37 - Josh Harris
July 23 - Adams County Speedway - Quincy, IL - 21 - Michael Long (2)
August 18 - Tri City Speedway - Granite City, IL - 24 - Treb Jacoby
August 19 - Highland Speedway - Highland, IL - 29 - Michael Long (3)
August 25 - Paducah International Raceway - Paducah, KY - CANCELED - CANCELED
August 26 - Paducah International Raceway - Paducah, KY - CANCELED - CANCELED
September 1 - Farmer City Raceway - Farmer City, IL - 39 - Ethan Dotson
September 2 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 41 - Michael Long (4)
September 3 - Spoon River Speedway - Lewistown, IL - 35 - Ethan Dotson (2)
October 6 - Brownstown Bullring - Brownstown, IL - 27 - Mike Harrison
October 7 - Fairbury Speedway - Fairbury, IL - 40 - Michael Ledford

Nightly Award Winners

Multi Fire X Fast Time Award Winners

Josh Harris – 3
Tyler Nicely – 2
Austin Friedman – 2
John Clippinger – 1
Kyle Steffens – 1
Jared Thomas – 1
Trevor Neville – 1
Brian Shaw – 1
Kenny Wallace – 1
Zeke McKenzie – 1
Mike McKinney – 1
Mike Harrison – 1
Michael Ledford – 1

Willy’s Carb & Dyno Heat Race #1 Winners

Kyle Steffens – 2
Josh Harris – 2
Zeke McKenzie – 2
Austin Friedman – 2
Charlie Mefford – 1
John Clippinger – 1
Tyler Nicely – 1
Michael Long – 1
Austen Becerra – 1
Kenny Wallace – 1
Ethan Dotson – 1
Mike McKinney – 1
Mike Harrison – 1

Summit Racing Equipment 1st Place Finisher

Michael Long – 4
Tyler Nicely – 3
Kyle Steffens – 2
Ethan Dotson – 2
Mike McKinney – 1
Cole Falloway – 1
Josh Harris – 1
Treb Jacoby – 1
Mike Harrison – 1
Michael Ledford – 1

Fast Shafts 3rd place Finisher

Michael Long – 3
Josh Harris – 3
Tyler Nicely – 2
Trevor Neville – 1
Kyle Steffens – 1
Derek Losh – 1
Dillon Nusbaum – 1
Mike McKinney – 1
Kenny Wallace – 1
Ray Bollinger – 1
Michael Ledford – 1
Austin Friedman – 1

Out-Pace Racing Products 5th Place Finisher

Josh Harris – 3
Mike Chasteen Jr – 2
Zeke McKenzie – 1
Allen Weisser – 1
Dillon Nusbaum – 1
Trevor Neville – 1
Brandon Roberts – 1
Rick Conoyer – 1
Timmy Hill – 1
Dean Hoffman – 1
Ethan Dotson – 1
Mike McKinney – 1
Austin Rettig – 1
Trent Young – 1

Keyser Manufacturing 7th Place Finisher

Charlie Mefford – 3
Zeke McKenzie – 3
John Clippinger – 1
Allen Weisser – 1
Rick Conoyer – 1
Caden McWhorter – 1
Kyle Steffens – 1
Danny Ems – 1
Mike Chasteen Jr – 1
Zeb Moake – 1
Ryan Thomas – 1
Victor Lee – 1
Trent Young – 1

Hooker Harness 11th Place Finisher

Mike McKinney – 2
Josh Harris – 2
Cole Falloway – 1
Josh Lemke – 1
Justin Jones – 1
Jacob Rexing – 1
Steven Brooks – 1
Mike Brooks – 1
Jim Black – 1
Shawn Deering – 1
Owen Steinkoenig – 1
Willy Myers – 1
Zac Harris – 1
Shane Kelley – 1
Mike Harrison – 1

MD3 Hard Charger Award Winners

Michael Long – 1
Caden McWhorter – 1
Justin Jones – 1
Will Krup – 1
Logan Veloz – 1
Dave Baldwin – 1
Mike Chasteen Jr – 1
Danny Schwartz – 1
Danny Ems – 1
Trevor Neville – 1
Rick Salter – 1
Joe Mercurio – 1
Brad Deyoung – 1
Eric Vaughan – 1
Zeke McKenzie – 1
Shane Kelley – 1
Trevor Ringle – 1

Wilwood Brakes Hard Luck Award Winners

Blake Bailey – 3
Cole Falloway – 1
Trevor Neville – 1
Zeke McKenzie – 1
Logan Mounce – 1
Allen Weisser – 1
Josh Allen – 1
Kyle Steffens – 1
Frankie Wellman – 1
Ray Bollinger – 1
Josh Harris – 1
Mike Chasteen Jr – 1
Dave Wietholder – 1
Tim Ehlers – 1
Ethan Weber – 1

Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Race Winners

Charlie Mefford – 12
Blake Bailey – 2
Caden McWhorter – 1
Logan Veloz – 1
Ricky Frasure – 1

MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment 2023 Final Points

  1. Michael Long – Fowler, IL - 974 points
  2. Josh Harris – Utica, KY - 921 points
  3. Zeke McKenzie – Claypool, IL - 674 points
  4. Mike Chasteen Jr – Peoria, IL - 671 points
  5. Tyler Nicely – Owensboro, KY - 625 points
  6. Charlie Mefford – Belton, KY - 623 points
  7. Mike McKinney – Plainfield, IL - 496 points
  8. Blake Bailey – Bunker Hill, IL - 470 points
  9. Kyle Steffens – St. Charles, MO - 469 points
  10. Trevor Neville – Mackinaw, IL - 453 points
  11. Rick Frasure – Lawrenceville, IL - 447 points
  12. Allen Weisser – Peoria, IL - 378 points
  13. Ray Bollinger – Kewanee, IL - 340 points
  14. Dillon Nusbaum – Warsaw, IN - 326 points
  15. Brian Shaw – Robinson, IL - 285 points

MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment 2023 Top 11 Driver Breakdown

Michael Long

Point Position: 1
Events Entered: 16
Wins: 4
Top 5’s: 13
Top 10’s: 14
Average Feature Finish: 4.75

In one of the most impressive DIRTcar UMP Modified seasons in recent memory, Michael Long became the inaugural MARS Modified champion. Running against the best competition and largest fields of cars in the Midwest, Long was able to finish in the top-10 in every event he entered in 2023 with the exception of the two features he did not finish. In the middle of the season Long went 8 straight events finishing on the podium including 3 wins during that span. His 4 victories on the tour came at Fairbury on April 29, Adams County, Highland, and Fairbury again on September 2.

Josh Harris

Point Position: 2
Events Entered: 17
Wins: 1
Top 5’s: 12
Top 10’s: 13
Average Feature Finish: 6.53

A guy who is no stranger to the road when it comes to racing in the Midwest is Utica, Kentucky’s Josh Harris. Harris put these skills to the test in 2023 as he hit each and every MARS Modified Series event en route to a second-place finish in season standings. Consistency is key, and while only picking up 1 series win (at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in July), Harris was in the mix towards the front almost every single night of the tour.

Zeke McKenzie

Point Position: 3
Events Entered: 15
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 3
Top 10’s: 9
Average Feature Finish: 10.8

Making the tow from The Hoosier State each event, with the exception of 1 weekend, was the driver from Claypool, Indiana, Zeke McKenzie. Zeke has competed in the state of Illinois as much as he has in his home state of Indiana over the past couple of years, so traveling west was nothing new. Opening weekend started out great for the team, but a stumble throughout the middle of the year took them out of contention for a series championship year 1. His duel on the final night of the tour against Mike Chasteen Jr positioned himself third in the series standings.

Mike Chasteen Jr

Point Position: 4
Events Entered: 17
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 2
Top 10’s: 9
Average Feature Finish: 11.41

Hitting the road with the MARS Modified tour in its entirety was Peoria, Illinois driver Mike Chasteen Jr. The year didn’t go exactly as planned for the #C40, but when his new Mark Bush Racing machine arrived in September, it’s like the team received the much-needed spark they were looking for. Unfortunately, he was only able to pilot his new ride for the final 2 events of the season where he picked up a pair of top-10 finishes. His best finishes of the year were fifth-place finishes at Red Hill and at Farmer City in May.

Tyler Nicely

Point Position: 5
Events Entered: 10
Wins: 3
Top 5’s: 8
Top 10’s: 9
Average Feature Finish: 3 + 1 DNQ

A story of what might have been… Owensboro, Kentucky racer Tyler Nicely had a strong season going with the MARS Modified tour, and while leading the series standings, dropped off the tour after the first half of the season to dabble around in Super Late Models. Nicely had a phenomenal start the first half of the season with 8 top-5 finishes in 10 events. His 3 wins came at Brownstown Bullring opening night, Red Hill, and Farmer City in May. Miraculously, his showing the first half of the season led him to maintain a fifth-place finish in season standings.

Charlie Mefford

Point Position: 6
Events Entered: 15
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 2
Top 10’s: 5
Average Feature Finish: 12.6

Hitting the road after sudden stardom in the winter of 2022/2023 was Belton, Kentucky driver Charlie Mefford. Mefford picked up the Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year title along with sixth-place in points for his efforts throughout the season. Many flashes of speed kept the positivity up in the 13 camp most of the year, but his final 4 races of the season resulting in finishes all outside of the top-10 kept him from advancing even further up the ladder of competitors. His best finishes of the season were a pair of fourth-place finishes at Red Hill and in Farmer City in May.

Mike McKinney

Point Position: 7
Events Entered: 9
Wins: 1
Top 5’s: 5
Top 10’s: 6
Average Feature Finish: 6.78

Plainfield, Illinois driver Mike McKinney found his way into the MARS Modified Championship feature win list on May 27 at Fairbury Speedway. While only entering half of the races on the season, McKinney was still able to maintain a seventh-place finish in the final standings. He may not have hit every show, but when he did, he made them count. 5 top-5 finishes tied for fourth best on the tour in 2023.

Blake Bailey

Point Position: 8
Events Entered: 17
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 0
Top 10’s: 0
Average Feature Finish: 17.62 + 4 DNQ

Dedication and Perseverance are two words that come to mind when thinking of Blake Bailey and the MARS Modified tour. Gremlins seemed to never be shook from the Blake Bailey team, no matter what car they were in. Throughout the course of the 17-race schedule, Bailey drove 3 different cars across the Midwest. His best finish of the season was twelfth at Adams County.

Kyle Steffens

Point Position: 9
Events Entered: 8
Wins: 2
Top 5’s: 5
Top 10’s: 6
Average Feature Finish: 6.88

Another driver that impressed in limited starts on the season in 2023 was St. Charles, Missouri driver Kyle Steffens. Back-to-back wins at Charleston and Adams County in May put him into position to be a threat for the series title but chose to drop off the series due to other obligations. Nonetheless, his efforts in the 8 races he competed in were good enough to garner him nineth-place in series standings.

Trevor Neville

Point Position: 10
Events Entered: 9
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 3
Top 10’s: 7
Average Feature Finish: 8.56

Rounding out the top-10 in series standings was Mackinaw, Illinois driver Trevor Neville. Neville had what most would consider his most aggressive schedule ever in 2023 and visited us 9 times over the course of the season. When he was at a MARS show, he was typically running as strong as anyone. His best finish was a third-place finish on opening night at Brownstown.

Rick Frasure

Point Position: 11
Events Entered: 17
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 0
Top 10’s: 0
Average Feature Finish: 18.1 +7 DNQ

The final driver in MARS Modified standings to receive point-fund money and picking up the Road Warrior of the Year award was Lawrenceville, Illinois racer Rick Frasure. Frasure hit each and every show and did more traveling than ever before in his racing career. A trying year for sure, but at the end of the day he did what only 3 other people have done in MARS Modified tour history: hit every event. His best finish of the season was fifteenth at Red Hill and Adams County in July.

Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year Final Point Standings

  1. Charlie Mefford – 623 points
  2. Blake Bailey – 470 points
  3. Rick Frasure – 447 points

Tidbits of the 2023 Season

• Car Count average of 35.29 cars per race. The largest of any DIRTcar UMP Modified series in the country.

• 10 winners in 17 events.

• 7 full-time drivers.

• Winner’s shares included: (2) $5,000, (1) $3,000, (1) $2,564, 13 ($2,000).

• Events were contested at 10 racetracks in 2 states.

• 230 total different competitors.

For more information about the MARS Dirt Series, please contact Jonathan Clayton at 731-467- 1316, visit the tour’s webpage at marsracingseries.com, or visit @MARSDirtRacing on Facebook, X (Formerly Twitter), and Instagram.

MARS Late Model Championship Powered by FK Rod Ends and MARS Modified Championship Powered by Summit Racing Equipment would like to thank the following sponsors and marketing partners for their support: FK Rod Ends, Summit Racing Equipment, Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts, Flo Racing, Racing Electronics, Hoosier Racing Tire, Sunoco Race Fuels, Illinois State Rifle Association, Pontiac RV, Allstar Performance, O’Reilly Auto Parts, DIRTcar Racing, Driscoll Motors, Woods Basement Systems, MD3, Josh James Artwork, MWD Signs & Graphix, Fairbury Fastener & Supply, King’s Graphix, Dirt Draft, Digital Copy Systems, Whelen, Multi Fire X, Budda Bert Transmission, Dyer’s Top Rods, Fast Shafts, Wilwood Brakes, Wehrs Machine & Racing Products, Out-Pace Racing Products, Keyser Manufacturing, Varsitee Screenprinting, Willy’s Carb & Dyno, Mackinaw Valley Powder Coating, Trackside Racewear, and Hooker Harness.


Article Credit: Jonathan Clayton

Submitted By: Jonathan Clayton

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Fast Shafts
Flo Racing
Hoosier Tire
ISRA
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Racing Electronics
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